About Aaron Reimer

Aaron P. Reimer, president of River Run Anglers, was raised in Montana's Flathead Valley where fly fishing is not a pastime, it is a way of life. Early on he was taken under the wing of a local legend, Otto Schultz, who instructed him in fly tying and the basics of fly fishing. Any man who would spend the time to take a fatherless boy fishing was bigger than life, but his generosity did not stop there. Mr. Schultz worked tirelessly toward promoting true sportsmanship in deed and gesture. He assisted scout troops, conservation groups, and the Fish & Game Department all for the betterment of the fishing community.

Though Otto Schultz was best known for his Trude tying style, the fly that Aaron remembers him best for is the Duck Lake Special. This was the first fly that the man taught the boy to tie. Like the man, the Duck Lake Special was larger than life. One must recall that in Montana during the 1950's a size 12 was the norm and a 6 was large even for a stone fly. This made the DLS, tied on a 2 or even a 1/0 hook, truly gigantic. Duck Lake, however, held some massive rainbows which cruised the shores at ice out. The DLS fit the fancy of these aggressive feeders to a "T."

Randall Kaufmann wrote about Otto Schultz in his book, Tying Dry Flies:

As a teenager, I traveled with my family to Montana every summer. I always looked forward to visiting Otto Schultz, a grand German character who sold flies our of his house along Highway 2 south of Columbia Falls. Otto's place was brightly painted, and the front yard was decorated with antlers. Inside his wood-paneled station wagon was his penman "passenger," a life-sized statue of an Indian squaw. Otto liked to talk about "them big cutthroats" in the Hungry Horse area and how the fishing and the country had been so much better before the construction of the dam. Otto tied beautiful Trude-style flies and I always collected a few and marveled at their construction, especially the hackle.

Aaron continued his fly tying education directly and indirectly under such great names as Francis Potts, George Grant, and more recently Torill Kolbu. When he first issued his line of River Run Flies through Golden Witch Rods, Aaron wrote:

In debuting these flies to the general public, I feel some clarification is needed. I did not invent these fly dressings. Rather, they developed from the mosaic of thoughts set forth in writings and workshops put on by my mentors: George Grant, Francis Potts, Dan Bailey, and Torill Kolbu. By using their exacting examples of perfection, I have striven to create a series of flies whose form and beauty will enhance the success of the modern fly fisherman. In doing so, I feel that I have created a fly that is worthy of the fish for which it is intended. I strongly feel that no fish should be caught on a fly that the fly fisherman does not take pride in tying or using. To this purpose I have dedicated the past five exasperating years of my life.

Here Aaron is modest. He has spent far more than five years learning his techniques and he has developed some of his own patterns that rival those of his mentors in their ingenuity. He is also an adept at translating traditional Steelhead patterns into woven dressings. Time consuming at the vise, these woven body flies prove their mettle on the stream where their durability reduces the need to tie on fresh flies by orders of magnitude.

Stepping back again, we'll track Aaron's introduction to Spey fishing. In 1969 Uncle Sam stationed Aaron on Kodiak Island, Alaska where he began a romance with the big fish. These first dalliances with salmon and steelhead quickly overshadowed his earliest paramours, the trout. Now, second only to his lovely wife, Susan, indigenous fish of the Pacific Rim lay claim to his greatest passions.

While guiding part-time for both The Steelhead Shoppe and Alaska Wilderness Outfitters (both now defunct) it soon became apparent to Aaron that the best time to catch fresh fish was following the frequent Ketchikan storms. The region receives approximately 144 inches of rain per year, sometimes getting dumped with up to 18 inches in a 24 hour period. These storms blew the streams out of their banks leaving little room for back casts and making wading an unsafe proposition. Faced with this conflation of awful stream conditions and exceptional angling, Aaron's interest was piqued when he first heard about a European style of casting that would solve his dilemma: Spey casting.

One phone call to Mike Maxwell started the ball rolling. For a look at Aaron's Spey fishing accomplishments, we turn to a long excerpt from his article, "An Introduction To Spey Fishing":

In 1990, a mad dash from my former home in Ketchikan, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia had me on the door step of Mike and Denise Maxwell's Joyce Street shop. With a quick, "Howdy do," picked up a thirteen foot, three piece rod, a video, and an instruction manual. When asked if I needed a lesson, I answered, "nope," and jumped back on a jet bound for Alaska. A big mistake! The man who had just offered me a lesson was one of a handful of true Spey casting instructors.

Mistakes notwithstanding, this was to be the start of an odyssey that led me to spend more than 300 days a year with a Spey rod in hand between 1990 and 1995. Going was slow at first. Trying to learn to cast without a set of trained eyes to explain where you went wrong is difficult and is one of the main reasons why many people never master the cast. However, through perseverance and lots of phone calls to Mike, not to mention a few trips back down to Vancouver, my cast finally developed. The greatest benefit of having been a slow learner who took several wrong turns before right turns, is that, like a military officer who began service as an enlisted man, I climbed all the ranks before I was called an instructor and can now relate to nearly every problem that the novice faces.

MIKE MAXWELL, the man who first called me student was also the first to declare me an instructor. In his opus, The Art & Science of Speyfishing, Mike wrote:

Former speyfishing student, Aaron Reimer…instructor, outfitter, and guide of Ketchikan, Alaska lives and fishes in what must be an angler's paradise. Apart from four different families of Pacific salmon, he has steelhead and cutthroat trout available virtually all year around. Over the years, he has built up his 'arsenal' of speyrods, to enable him to match his equipment for any speyfishing situation ….Wouldn't we all like to have the opportunity, resources and dedication of Aaron?

I asked Aaron what he hoped for his fly fishing legacy. He impressed upon me that he did not care if his name was ever printed as a footnote in the history of the art of angling with a fly. Rather, he insisted, "If I have a legacy to leave to fly fishing, I hope it would be to get it right. The right cast, the right rod, the right fly, and the right presentation."